Kain whistled appreciatively as Ruka gracefully descended the stairs in the Moon Dormitory entrance hall. She smiled slowly in response and ghosted over to him. ‘Can I take that to mean you like the dress?’ she asked in a deceptively cool voice. Akatsuki pursed his lips and took Ruka’s hand to make her twirl around. The large, lacy skirts of her ball gown fanned out before slowly drifting back into shape.

‘I like the dress,’ admitted Akatsuki. He leaned in to whisper in her ear, ‘I like the hair, too,’ and then he paused before finishing, ‘but then you’re always exceptionally lovely.’

Ruka laughed lightly; after all, Akatsuki was only being polite. He may be her date for the evening, but their relationship was purely platonic – despite her secret desires. She drew on a pair on antique, silken gloves and threaded her arm into the waiting crook of Akatsuki’s elbow. ‘You don’t look so bad yourself,’ she told him. It was true that in a tuxedo, Akatsuki looked even more otherworldly gorgeous than normal. The crisp whiteness of his shirt showed how pale his skin glowed, and the finely tailored jacket highlighted the strong, broad set of his shoulder and the muscle definition in his arms.

It was the Headmaster’s birthday, and they would celebrate with a ball just like they did every year. And just like every year, the Day Class had decorated the main hall with tacky decorations that made Ruka’s nose crinkle in distaste. ‘Whatever was wrong with the candles and such that decorated these social functions when I was young?’ she asked haughtily, one arched eyebrow sliding up smoothly.

Akatsuki laughed. ‘There have been a few health and safety regulations introduced in the last few centuries, Ruka,’ he explained dryly. ‘So much fire in a room full of clumsy humans would be dangerous – you know they don’t fear fire in the same way we do.’ He was fascinated, as always, by the helium balloons, almost childishly so.

Ruka immediately stole away to a corner, hoping to hide away from the Day Class boys. Akatsuki leaned lazily against a nearby pillar. ‘You detest dancing with them so much. Would you dance with me?’ he asked pointedly.

‘You wouldn’t ask,’ she returned icily, crossing her arms across her torso.

Akatsuki grinned, showing the pointed tips of his fangs. ‘True,’ he murmured. A shiver ran down Ruka’s spine, and she held back a smile. When Kain was snatched away by a mindless Day Class girl (a dreary child with flushed cheeks and a watery complexion, Ruka noticed, and skinny as a rake – unlike the curvaceous bodies achieved by corsets when she was born) Ruka lurked in the gloom of her hiding place like a bat.

Whilst sweeping around the room, graciously allowing some girl the pleasure of his company, Akatsuki kept his eyes firmly fixed on Ruka. He could never tell whether she hated him or not – something that constantly intrigued him. Akatsuki was enthralled by her cold gaze, and the way she measured today’s conditions against the standards of “her day”; several hundred years ago, in Ruka’s case. Her eyes were lowered, and her thick eyelashes tickled her soft cheek. A shudder of lust, either for blood or flesh, shook Akatsuki. He froze mid-step, causing his partner to stumble. He caught her effortlessly. ‘I apologise,’ he said gallantly. ‘I think I need a drink.’ He was off, striding away before the dithering girl could as much as blink.

Ruka noticed Akatsuki making his way purposefully towards her, but was still surprised when he took her hand, bowing to kiss it gently. Then they were off, twirling effortlessly through the crowds. People parted to allow them the entire floor, simply because they were such a preternaturally beautiful couple.

‘They’re all staring,’ stage-whispered Ruka amusedly.

Akatsuki blinked slowly at her. ‘I know how much you like to be the centre of attention, darling,’ he said in a spiky voice.

She beamed sarcastically. ‘Shut up,’ she commanded in her luscious voice.

They glared companionably at each other for a moment as the music slowed. Their steps mirrored the rhythm thoughtlessly. And then suddenly Akatsuki’s arms were holding onto Ruka strongly enough to lift her off the ground and fit his lips to hers. She gasped, and then sighed with pleasure, knotting her gloved fingers into his wild mane of hair. ‘Let’s ditch this joint,’ she suggested, the modern slang sounding jarring in her lilting, old-century voice.

‘Any excuse to get out of this dance,’ Akatsuki teased her. All the same, he swept her into his arms and made his way out of the hall quickly. They were barely out of the doors when his mouth was on hers again, and they were completely lost in the immortal beauty of one another.